Much like your shoes, your shoelaces also take a beating when tracked through muddy water or simply from daily wear. Unless your shoelaces are worn, there’s no need to throw them away – you can thoroughly clean them and lace up your shoes again.
There are five easy ways you can clean your shoelaces. Simply throw them in the wash or grab a toothbrush and some soap and start scrubbing. If they’re badly stained, you can bleach them, scrub them with baking soda, or rub some toothpaste onto them and wash them as usual.
Cleaning your shoelaces should take no time at all. If you want the step-by-step breakdown of cleaning your shoelaces using each method mentioned above, keep reading!
Five Easy Ways To Clean Dirty Shoelaces
You should be able to clean your shoelaces in a jiffy using any of these five methods below, and get results like this:
Just as a side note: When cleaning your colored shoelaces, make sure to use color-safe bleach, and if you have leather shoelaces, ensure that you specifically use a leather shoe soap.
1. Throw Them In The Washing Machine
The most convenient way to clean shoelaces is to throw them in the washing machine according to the load color – i.e., if you are washing white shoelaces, make sure to throw them in with a white load.
Here is the essential step-by-step breakdown of how to clean your shoelaces by using the washing machine:
- Remove the laces from the shoes – it will be much easier to clean your shoelaces if you have removed them from the shoes.
- Brush away any loose dirt or grime from the shoelaces using your hands or a brush.
- To wash the shoelaces, place them into a small mesh laundry bag (or a knotted pillowcase) and place the bag into the washing machine.
- Wash the shoelaces in a normal wash cycle using detergent.
- Once the washing cycle is done, hang the shoelaces over a towel rail and allow them to air dry. To avoid damaging the aglets, avoid placing the shoelaces in the dryer.
- Lace-up your shoes with your freshly washed shoelaces.
It is a pretty simple process that establishes a baseline for which steps you’ll have to follow with any of the following methods (excluding handwashing them).
Here is a video of me cleaning my shoelaces:
2. Scrub Them With An Old Toothbrush And Soap
To avoid damaging the aglets of your shoelaces, washing them by hand is your safest bet. Fortunately, this process won’t require many tools, and you will be left with good results.
To clean your shoelaces without a washing machine, you will have to:
- Remove the laces from the shoes,
- Remove any visible dust and debris from the shoelaces.
- Soak the shoelaces in warm water for a few minutes – this will allow any grime or remaining debris to soften while preparing your shoelaces for the next step.
- Using an old toothbrush and soap (your best option here will be a laundry soap), brush the wet shoelaces with the grain of the shoelace, i.e., brush across the length of the shoelace rather than the width.
- Brush over the entire length of the shoelace. If necessary, use small circular motions to remove the stubborn dirt – just be sure to be gentle to avoid ruining the shoelace or aglets.
- Using your hands rinse out the shoelaces using clean, warm water.
- Rest the shoelaces over a towel rail or sink and allow them to dry fully.
- Re-lace your shoes with your cleaned shoelaces.
If you see a tough stain on your shoelaces, you can use one of the following methods to remove it before giving it a final wash by machine or by hand.
You may also like: How To Lace Shoes So They Slip On – 3 EASY Ways
3. Restore White Shoelaces With Bleach
Removing stains from your shoelaces works best when used with the washing machine method.
To remove stains from your shoelaces and wash them using a machine, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Remove the shoelaces from the shoe.
- Dust away any large or visible pieces of dirt and debris.
- Wearing kitchen gloves in a well-ventilated room, mix a 3:1 ratio of water to bleach in a container.
- Wet the shoelaces before submerging them in the bleach solution. By wetting the shoelaces beforehand, you will be able to dip them in the bleach solution quickly.
- Leave the shoelaces wholly submerged in the bleach solution for 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on how soiled the laces are.
- Wash the shoelaces using either the handwashing or machine wash methods.
If you still see stubborn stains after this treatment, you can repeat the procedure until you’re satisfied.
However, if you do not want to use a chemical solvent or want your kids to clean their shoelaces by themselves, you can use one of the following methods to clean your shoelaces.
4. Clean Them By Using A Baking Soda Paste
Baking soda is an excellent cleaning agent, especially when combined with a mild acid like vinegar or lemon juice. In the case of shoelaces, baking soda is a great agent to use to clean and whiten your stained shoelaces. It’s an ideal way to clean shoelaces without using bleach.
To remove stains from your shoelaces using baking soda, you want to:
- Remove the stained and dirty shoelaces from your pair of shoes.
- If there are any large pieces of dust, brush them away using your hands.
- Mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 4oz of water in a bowl.
- Cover the shoelaces in the baking soda paste and allow the paste to sit on the shoelaces for 15 minutes.
- After allowing the paste to sit, rinse away any of the residue using warm water.
- After removing the residual paste, follow either the hand wash or machine wash methods to remove any residue and leave a sparkling shoelace.
If you need to brush the solution, you can do so by using a toothbrush and rubbing it with the grain of the shoelace.
Because baking soda is a mild base, the aglets and color of your shoelaces shouldn’t be compromised.
5. Use Toothpaste In A Pinch
If you are in a pinch and have neither bleach nor baking soda, you can also use toothpaste.
If you decide to use toothpaste to clean your shoelaces, you want to ensure that you don’t use colored toothpaste on your white shoelaces – there is a risk that you will stain them in the color of the toothpaste.
To clean your shoelaces using toothpaste, you need to:
- Remove the shoelaces from the shoes.
- Brush off large debris from the shoelace using your hands or a small brush.
- Wet the shoelaces in warm water and prepare an old toothbrush by loading it with suitable toothpaste — generally, a gel toothpaste works best.
- Brush the toothpaste onto the shoelace with the grain and allow the toothpaste to sit a few minutes before continuing to brush the shoelace.
- Using warm water, rinse the shoelaces.
- Wash away the remainder of the toothpaste by washing it using your hands or in the washing machine.
While this isn’t the most convenient way to clean your shoelaces, it is possible.
Other than using toothpaste to treat stains on your shoelaces, you can also use toothpaste to clean your shoes.
There are various ways to clean your shoelaces. If your shoelaces aren’t super stained, you can wash them using your hands and an old toothbrush or throw them into your next wash cycle.
If your shoelaces are stained, you can remove the stubborn stains using bleach, baking soda, or toothpaste. There is no need to sacrifice your shoelaces, and a quick wash will make those old kicks look good as new without much effort!
For more cleaning content, check out:
Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).